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Iraq parliament to assemble regional rivals in Baghdad

Iraq is to host senior officials from neighboring countries on Saturday, including regional arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. The initiative comes as Baghdad is carving out a role as a mediator in the deeply divided region, AFP said. The one-day summit will bring together heads of parliaments from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and Kuwait, according to a parliamentary spokesperson. Iran, one of Baghdad’s closest allies but a fierce foe of Saudi Arabia, will be represented by a “senior official.” The conference will be hosted by Iraq’s youngest-ever speaker of Parliament Mohammed al-Halbusi, 38. He had earlier welcomed Syria’s parliament chief Hammudeh Sabbagh, who landed in the Iraqi capital on Thursday night with a large delegation. Iraq has long been at the center of a struggle for influence between regional and international powers, notably neighboring Iran and the US.